The French political landscape is heading for some dramatic changes as former Prime Ministers Alain Juppe and Francois Fillon are heading for the second round of the Republican primaries following a national vote.
Ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy has already been eliminated from the running.
Meanwhile, polls in the build-up to the primaries showed National Front (FN) leader Marie Le Pen ahead in the first round of next year’s vote.
Le Pen has said that if she wins the presidential elections, the world will become a safer place, as France will cooperate with both US President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The forces at work in these various elections are ideas, forces which could bring about my election as the president of France next May,” Le Pen said last week.
Fillon, 62, has based his campaign on a program of economic reform – dumping France’s controversial 35-hour week, increasing the retirement age, and cutting public spending, in an effort to spark economic rejuvenation.
RT: We saw the U.S. media absolutely fail with their predictions in the election there. Are people in France feeling disillusioned with their political establishment?
Jack Rasmus: I think there are a lot of similarities going on here, just as there were with Trump and Brexit in England. What you’ve got is a lot of working class and small business folks who are just fed up with the policies of the last decade, which have emphasized trade and tax benefits for the rich, the concentration of income and the loss of jobs with which people can sustain themselves. What you see are these sectors of society protesting. This is a protest vote, a change vote. And even this primary vote in France with Sarkozy is a small signal of the same thing happening over there. I think Le Pen is in a very strong position here because people are just rejecting the old parties associated with the old policies. They don’t really care how extreme some of their positions may be. We saw that with Trump. No one cared about some of his outrageous statements. All they cared about was that this seemed like he’s going to make a change.
RT: We saw Sarkozy concede defeat in the primaries – does he simply not represent a change, something new? Will politicians like Sarkozy have difficulty appealing to voters – no matter what they say now?
JR: I don’t think there will be any change by any of the parties and their policies, which are classically neo-Liberal anywhere in continental Europe right now. They are on the same track to defeat here as the people protest that track. All of the Republican candidates are associated with the policies of the past, just as Hollande and the Socialist Party is pretty much defunct now. It doesn’t matter who they put up. Nobody is going to vote for the Socialists. It’s really going to be Le Pen’s election to lose, I think.
RT: The acting prime minister of France recently claimed that Le Pen is likely to win the coming election. Why does he see a victory for the far-right in France?
JR: She’s speaking to the issues that people are concerned about. In other words, the declining standard of living, the lack of real job creation. A lot of these jobs are part-time, temp contract jobs you can’t make a living off of them. A lot of the youth can’t find jobs at all; they’re stuck in these low-paid, part-time service employment… so they’re not really addressing those real issues. And of course, when someone comes along like Le Pen, or Trump or the UKIP Party in Britain and says, ‘Look, we’re going to change.’ And it doesn’t matter how detailed they get or don’t get about the details of the change. It’s just here is someone that will give us something different, we can’t up with what we’ve got anymore.